Protect our green spaces, government is urged in lockdown survey

The countryside in north-west Kent lies close to large centres of population… has its value ever been greater?

Despite us living under the strictest social-distancing measures we’ve ever experienced in the UK, there has been an increase in community spirit and appreciation for local green spaces and countryside during lockdown, according to new research.
Commissioned by CPRE, the countryside charity, and the National Federation of Women’s Institutes (WI), and carried out by Opinium, the poll has found that more than half (54 per cent) agree that people are doing more to help their communities and almost two-thirds of people (63 per cent) feel that protecting local green spaces should be a higher priority for the government when lockdown ends.
The results show local green spaces have been a haven for many people since lockdown measures began, with:

  • The majority (53 per cent) of people saying they appreciate local green spaces more since the country adopted social-distancing measures
  • More than half (57 per cent) of us reported that the lockdown has made us more aware of the importance of these local green spaces for our mental health and well-being
  • One in three people (35 per cent) reported visiting green spaces more since the start of lockdown

Crispin Truman, chief executive of CPRE, the countryside charity, said: “Our countryside and local green spaces are facing mounting pressure, but the coronavirus pandemic has reminded us why the countryside next door, including our Green Belts, is so important to ordinary people.
“More people are aware of the health and well-being benefits that access to green spaces delivers and support for protecting and enhancing these after lockdown is impossible for the government to ignore.
“Going back to business as usual is not an option. The government must use the forthcoming planning reforms to protect these precious spaces and also go further by investing in their enhancement.
“Many of us feared that lockdown would see more people isolated, lonely and cut off from their communities and the outside world. However, these results have turned these notions on their head.
“While we are physically distanced, many of us are more connected than ever and people are helping each other in their communities – with different age groups connecting more – which is truly inspiring to see.”
It is clear that some of the high-profile volunteering and fundraising initiatives are not isolated acts of kindness and community spirit. The poll has also uncovered an outpouring of community spirit and feeling of togetherness, revealing that:

  • Only 11 per cent of us feel less connected to our community at this time – 40 per cent feel more connected and 42 per cent just as connected as before
  • More than half (54 per cent) of us agree that people are doing more to help their community under lockdown
  • Two in five people (42 per cent) are communicating more with people in their local community and one in six people (19 per cent) communicating at least twice as much with their neighbours as before
  • The top five ways in which we’re connecting more under lockdown are:
    • ‘Clap for the NHS’ on a Thursday evening (49 per cent)
    • Saying hello at the front door (37 per cent)
    • Social media (36 per cent)
    • Phone calls (33 per cent)
    • Seeing people in person and at a safe distance in communal spaces like parks (29 per cent)

Intergenerational connections have also been impacted:

  • Almost a quarter (24 per cent) of people report they have made new connections with different age groups in their local community
  • One in three (33 per cent) 18- to 34-year-olds say they have made new intergenerational connections
  • For all those who have made these new connections, more than two-thirds (69 per cent) are optimistic these new relationships will continue once lockdown is over.

Lynne Stubbings, chair, National Federation of Women’s Institutes, said: “It is wonderful to see how communities have become more connected in response to the coronavirus pandemic. It is clear that we are cherishing our local communities now more than ever – by supporting our neighbours and those who are vulnerable, and getting out in the fresh air at our local green spaces.
“The WI has always thrived through difficult times and for over one hundred years it has remained at the heart of its communities, supporting those in need – and today’s lockdown is no different.
“WI members across the country have stepped forward to help others throughout the crisis – whether by arranging free book deliveries, sewing for the NHS, supporting food banks, or creating craft kits for families home-schooling their children.
“It is these acts of kindness and solidarity which have spread positivity, alleviated loneliness and lifted people’s spirits through what has been an incredibly challenging time.
“Throughout this crisis, green spaces have also been a lifeline to people dealing with the impact of lockdown. So many of us have discovered pockets of green right on our doorsteps – a chance to get out in the fresh air, exercise and support our mental well-being, which has been an oasis in difficult times. Yet too many of these places are threatened – by pollution, litter or the impacts of climate change.
“As we look to rebuild after the crisis, we must make sure that we continue to cherish our communities and this new sense of connectedness – both to each other and to our local environment.”

Monday, May 18, 2020

Appreciating the silent skies? Then join this survey asking how we’re affected by noise pollution

A single vapour trail in a sky that might otherwise be criss-crossed by them

It cannot have escaped the notice of many in the county that everything during the Covid-19 lockdown is so very much quieter – the constant drone (or roar) of aircraft overhead and road traffic all around us is a fraction of what it was.
While we’re fully understanding of the misery caused by the situation, the lockdown has resulted in an environment less afflicted by noise pollution than we have known for years.
Earlier this year, CPRE’s Network Aviation Group released a report showing the need for better mapping of aircraft noise and more research to understand the impact of aircraft noise on health.
The group are now undertaking an Aviation Noise Attitudes Survey to find out more about the impact of aircraft noise across the country and how it affects people on a day-to-day basis.
“During the lockdown many people have observed nature returning to towns and villages, from foxes to pheasants,” said Kia Trainor, director of CPRE Sussex.
“The sound of birdsong is becoming more familiar than the sound of traffic and aircraft noise. We think that this is a golden opportunity for people to consider the impact of noise on their lives”.
Sally Pavey, a CPRE Sussex trustee, added: “Although communities face uncertainty about what the future holds, the government are not delaying plans for the modernisation of airspace.
“This could see many rural areas impacted for the very first time by aircraft noise as policy seeks to limit the number of people impacted, so avoiding built-up areas.
“The process is well under way, with the Civil Aviation Authority conducting the CAP 1887 consultation on the masterplan of airspace modernisation during lockdown.”
The new survey is open until Monday, June 1, and open to everyone – you can take part by clicking here  

Friday, April 24, 2020